CHOOSING A PLATFORM FOR DISTANCE EDUCATION
[1. Інформаційні системи і технології]
Автор: Konstantin Radoutskyi, Senior Lecturer, V.N.Karazin Kharkiv National University; Kyryl Senko, Student, Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv; Anna Radoutska, Student, Kharkiv National University of Radio Electronics
In the conditions of the war in Ukraine and the global pandemic, the issue of distance and online education is becoming extremely acute. Currently, distance education is an independent form of education with its own set of information technologies and solutions. Today there are many technological tools and platforms, we will consider the most common and try to evaluate which of them is the most comfortable environment for both the student and the teacher.
The most famous platform is Google Classroom - a large-scale web service from Google. With its help, you can organize a standard educational process via the Internet, create classes and study groups, add students to them, download necessary educational materials, send assignments to students, organize thematic discussions, check assignments, and enter grades in an electronic journal. The main advantages of this platform are the ability to customize the class individually, as well as integration with other Google services. A teacher can create a class from his Google account, while at the same time synchronizing with other platforms such as Google Drive and Gmail. Class membership can be obtained through a student invitation or a custom key that is generated individually. All course files are stored in the cloud. This platform and its application have the appearance of a large-scale ecosystem that includes everything you need, even the ability to create tests and assign grades. Control tasks for students in the form of testing are created by the teacher separately on the Google Forms platform.
But even the largest distance education platform has a number of disadvantages. The first is the lack of real-time chat, which complicates communication between the teacher and the student. Secondly, the system works: Classroom does not allow students to be added if the course has already started.
The next platform considered is Microsoft Office 365.For most educational institutions in Ukraine, Microsoft offers a version of Office 365 Education with free access for teachers and students. Microsoft Office 365 resembles Google Classroom because it looks like an ecosystem using only its own products for various tasks. Classroom work can be organized with OneNote by creating a digital classroom notebook that includes a student workspace, interactive worksheets, and an organized lesson plan. Access to the course is provided through an individual link for each class. Tasks and tests can be created directly in a digital notebook using Microsoft Forms - a form that contains pre-created tests with different types of questions and answers. When using tests created with Microsoft Forms, students must enter their answers in the form, after which the results are sent to the teacher for verification and cannot be corrected. And with the help of the application, it becomes even more convenient to use Office 365 even offline. But the main disadvantage is the lack of a complete application for both a computer and a smartphone, which would have a convenient interface and include all programs, not each one separately. In general, using Office 365 is very difficult for both the student and the teacher. It is not possible to keep a log of grades or visits. The lack of real-time chat also complicates communication.
The third common distance education platform is Moodle - it is a free learning management system focused primarily on the organization of interaction between the teacher and students, although it is also suitable for organizing traditional distance courses and also supporting face-to-face learning. Using Moodle, the teacher can create courses, filling them with content in the form of texts, auxiliary files, presentations, questionnaires, etc. To use Moodle, it is enough to have any web browser. Based on the results of the students' performance of the tasks, the teacher can assign grades and give comments. Thus, Moodle is a center for creating educational material and ensuring interactive interaction between participants in the educational process. The main plus is the opportunity to do joint educational and research work of students on a certain topic, with the help of built-in wiki mechanisms, seminars, forums, etc. But the biggest problem is that creating an individual course is a very complicated process and requires the help of professionals.
After considering the three most famous platforms, it becomes clear that the choice of the platform depends on the individual needs of the course participants. In order to understand what should actually be on the platform, a survey was conducted among teachers and students of Kharkiv higher educational institutions, based on the results of which a percentage of the importance of the presence of each function was obtained (table 1).
Table 1. Priority functions when choosing a platform for distance learning
The survey was not representative and was conducted in 2020 and 2022 among 145 and 138 distance learning participants, but some conclusions can be drawn from it. First of all, none of the listed, most common platforms that are currently used in distance learning meets 100% of all the needs of the participants. For example, the ability to remind students about taking classes and tests is currently the most popular, but such a function does not exist anywhere. There is also a need to create standardized courses at the state level, which will allow attracting the most educated specialists.